The man who oversaw the research that led to the historic "man-made" flood in the Grand Canyon last spring has resigned. River ecologist Dave Wegner quit after Interior Department officials closed down his Glen Canyon Environmental Studies office and replaced it with a research center headed by a biologist with little experience in river management.


Wegner said that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt had assured him that the agency wanted him to initiate similar studies for other Western rivers harnessed by dams. Instead, Wegner said, Bureau of Reclamation officials offered him transfer positions within the agency that didn't make use of his expertise.


"A 13-year intellectual investment is in danger of being squandered," said Wegner, who plans to set up a consulting firm to continue his river restoration work.


Former BuRec Commissioner Dan Beard said political forces that opposed the idea of reducing power production at Glen Canyon may have finally caught up with Wegner. To do good science in the canyon, said Beard, Wegner and his team "had to step on some toes." Some "long knives' being sharpened for over a decade have now come out and done their work, he added.


An Interior spokesman said the agency valued Wegner's work and would use it as the basis for restoration efforts around the country.


* George Sibley